I notice that I’d rather you didn’t

Alison Edwards, the Amsterdam-based translator of Lingo and one of the world’s funniest writers with a PhD in linguistics, recently read a Dutch book about language that was a run-away best-seller a few years ago: ‘Taal is zeg maar echt mijn ding’, by well-known comedian Paulien Cornelisse. Here’s what she couldn’t help noticing.

ALISON EDWARDS

Observant, Maastricht

I was watching TV with my husband when he turned to me and said, ‘Actually, it wouldn’t be all that easy to kill you.’

‘Pardon?’

It was the word actually that struck me. As though it was a rejoinder to a conversation about the difficulty or otherwise of doing me in that had been going on for some time. In his head, perhaps.

This is the kind of thing you pick up on when you’ve just finished reading Taal is zeg maar echt mijn ding (Language is like totally my thing) by Paulien Cornelisse.

It was a very instructive book. I learnt a lot about Dutch, and the language attitudes of the Dutch; for instance: ‘the word fucking is an enrichment and we should be thankful for that’. But also things that hold for language in general. Bound to come in handy is the revelation that you…

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